World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Processed food

Article Id: WHEBN0001319133
Reproduction Date:

Title: Processed food  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Junk food, Raw foodism, Del Monte Foods, Appetein
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Processed food

"Packaged food" redirects here. You may be looking for Food packaging.

Convenience food, or tertiary processed food, is commercially prepared food designed for ease of consumption. Although restaurant meals meet this definition, the term is seldom applied to them. Convenience foods include prepared foods such as ready-to-eat foods, frozen foods such as TV dinners, shelf-stable products and prepared mixes such as cake mix.

Bread, cheese, salted food and other prepared foods have been sold for thousands of years. Other kinds were developed with improvements in food technology. Types of convenience foods can vary by country and geographic region. Some convenience foods have received criticism due to concerns about nutritional content and how its packaging may increase solid waste in landfills. Initiatives have occurred to reduce the unhealthy aspects of commercially produced food and fight childhood obesity.

Convenience food is commercially prepared for ease of consumption.[1] Products designated as convenience food are often sold as hot, ready-to-eat dishes; as room-temperature, shelf-stable products; or as refrigerated or frozen food products that require minimal preparation (typically just heating)[2] Convenience foods have also been described as foods that have been created to "make them more appealing to the consumer."[3] Convenience foods and fast foods are similar, because the development of both occurred to save time in the preparation of food.[4] Both typically cost more compared to the price of preparing the same foods from scratch.[4]


For thousands of years people have bought food from bakeries, creameries, butcher shops and other commercial processors to save time and effort. The Aztec people of Central Mexico utilized several convenience foods that required only adding water for preparation, which were used by travelers.[5] Cornmeal that was ground and dried, referred to as pinolli, was used by travelers as a convenience food in this manner.[5]

Canned food was developed in the 19th century, primarily for military use, and became more popular during World War I. Experience in World War II contributed to the development of frozen foods and the frozen food industry.[6]

Modern convenience food saw its beginnings in the United States during the period that began after World War II.[7] Many of these products had their origins in military-developed foods designed for storage longevity and ease of preparation in the battle field. Following the war, several commercial food companies had leftover manufacturing facilities, and some of these companies created new freeze-dried and canned foods for home use.[8] Like many product introductions, not all were successful—convenience food staples such as fish sticks and canned peaches were counterbalanced by failures such as ham sticks and cheeseburgers-in-a-can.[9]


Convenience foods can include products such as candy; beverages such as soft drinks, juices and milk; fast food; nuts, fruits and vegetables in fresh or preserved states; processed meats and cheeses; and canned products such as soups and pasta dishes. Additional convenience foods include frozen pizza,[10] chips[3] such as potato chips,[10] pretzels[3] and cookies.[10]

These products are often sold in portion controlled, single serve packaging[11][12] designed for portability.

Packaged mixes

Packaged mixes are convenience foods[13] which typically require some preparation and cooking either in the oven or on the stove top. Examples include cake mixes,[14] macaroni and cheese,[15] brownie mixes,[16] and gravy mixes.[17] Some packaged mixes may have a high fat content.[18]

By country

In 2007 it was noted in the book Australia's food & nutrition 2012 that a distinct increase in convenience food consumption had been occurring in Australia.[19]

In Japan, Onigiri (rice balls) are a popular convenience food.[20] Additional Japanese convenience foods include prepared tofu (bean curd),[21] prepared packages of seafood[22] and instant ramen noodles.[23]

Canned tuna packed in oil is a convenience food in the Solomon Islands.[24]

By region

In Western Africa, processed cassava flour that has been grated and dried is a popular convenience food.[25]


In some instances, retail sales of convenience foods may provide higher profit margins for food retailers compared to the profits attained from sales of the individual ingredients that are present in the convenience foods.[26]

A survey in 1984 attributed over one-third of funds spent by consumers for food in Great Britain to be for convenience food purchases.[27]


Critics have derided the increasing trend of convenience foods because of numerous issues. Several groups have cited the environmental harm of single serve packaging due to the increased usage of plastics that contributes to solid waste in landfills.[28][29] Due to concerns about obesity and other health problems, some health organizations have criticized the high fat, salt, preservative and additive content that is present in some convenience foods[11]

Nutritional issues

According to a page on the website of the Cleveland Clinic: "Most convenience foods on the market today are laden with saturated fats, sodium and sugar and provide little to no nutritional value."[30]


Salt is an essential nutrient, but sodium, usually in the form of salt, has been linked with high blood pressure. A single serving of many convenience foods contains a significant portion of the recommended daily allowance of sodium. Manufacturers are concerned that if the taste of each product is not optimized by adding salt that it will not sell as well as competing products. Tests have shown that some popular packaged foods are dependent on significant amounts of salt for their palatability.[31]

Labeling, mitigation, and regulation

In response to the issues surrounding the healthfulness of convenience and restaurant foods, an initiative in the United States, spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and her Let's Move! campaign, to reduce the unhealthy aspects of commercially produced food and fight childhood obesity, was unveiled by the White House in February 2010. Mrs. Obama has pushed the industry to cut back on sugars and salts found in many convenience foods, encouraging self-regulation over government intervention through laws and regulations.[32] Despite Mrs. Obama's stated preference on self-regulation, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was looking into quantifying the guidelines into law while other groups and municipalities are seeking to add other preventative measures such as target taxes and levies onto these products.[33][34] In response to the attention, in April 2010 a coalition of sixteen manufactures all agreed to reduce salt levels in foods sold in the United States under a program based on a similar effort in the United Kingdom.[33] However, the initiative has met with resistance from some manufacturers, who claim that processed foods require the current high levels of salt to remain appetizing and to mask undesirable effects of food processing such as "warmed over flavor".[31] The coalition expanded its mission in May 2010 by announcing that it intends to reduce the amount of calories in foods. By introducing lower calorie foods, changing product recipes and reducing portion sizes, the coalition stated that it expected to reduce the caloric content of foods by more than 1.5 trillion calories in total by 2012.[34]

See also

Food portal
Drink portal



  • Ensminger, Audrey H. (1994). ISBN 0849389801

Further reading

  • Lawrence, Geoffrey; Lyons, Kristen; Wallington, Tabatha (2012). ISBN 1136545654
  • Obenauf, Carl F. (2004). . C.F. Obenauf.

External links

  • Social Change and Foodways
  • American Women and the Making of Modern Consumer Culture
  • Convenience Foods: Factors Affecting Their Use Where Household Diets are Poor
  • British Frozen Foods Federation: The Last 50 Years
  • US Food Facts & Historyde:Convenience Food

es:Plato preparado fr:Aliment industriel ko:인스턴트 식품 ja:インスタント食品 simple:Convenience food fi:Eines

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.